Ex-West Jordan police officer files lawsuit in latest battle with police department
SALT LAKE CITY — A former West Jordan police sergeant claims in a federal lawsuit that for more than a decade a superior officer harassed him with crude comments and gay-themed jokes pointed at him.
Aaron D. Jensen, 37, also alleges the police department pursued criminal charges against him in retaliation for a settlement he reached with the city over a labor and sexual harassment complaint he filed. His lawsuit seeks at least $1 million in damages.
The 29-page complaint in U.S. District Court is the latest move in an prolonged clash between Jensen and the police department. It describes in graphic detail remarks allegedly made to and about Jensen starting the year after he joined the force in 1996. He also claims a lieutenant called him into his office to show him gay pornography on his computer.
Jensen said he made several attempts to notify his superiors of the situation, "even to the point of standing and yelling in a staff meeting in early 2001 that such behavior was inappropriate and he was tired of it." He claims the work environment caused panic attacks and anxiety, leading him to be placed on medication for depression.
West Jordan did not return calls seeking comment.
The hostility continued after Jensen married in 2003, the complaint states.
In August 2008, Jensen announced that his wife was pregnant. "The baby can’t be yours; we all know that you’re gay," a lieutenant said to him according to the complaint.
Also, that year Jensen was asked to give a staff presentation and left the room to set up. When he returned, the lawsuit says, the phrase "you're gay" was projected on the wall.
Jensen filed a complaint with the Utah Labor Commission. In a settlement, he received $80,000 in exchange for resigning from the police force and dropping the complaint. West Jordan also agreed to not retaliate against him, according to court documents.
Jensen alleged in his lawsuit that the department began a criminal investigation of him the day the settlement was reached in April 2009.
About a year later, the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office charged Jensen with one count of distribution of a controlled substance and two counts of misuse of public money. The case was later transferred to the Davis County Attorney's Office.
According to the charges, Jensen released less than half of $1,239 due to a man upon his release from jail in 2007.
Prosecutors also alleged that in 2008 Jensen bought heroin and cocaine from two men while he was off duty. The men told investigators that Jensen told them he wouldn't arrest them if they would work as drug informants for him.
All three felony charges against Jensen were eventually dismissed.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings wrote informing state authorities that he would not refile the charges and that Jensen was no longer under investigation. In addition, he wrote that he believed West Jordan brought the charges for retaliatory reasons, according to the lawsuit.
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